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The Woodmans (2011)

Francesca Woodman , Betty Woodman , C. Scott Willis  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Francesca Woodman, Betty Woodman, George Woodman, Charlie Woodman
  • Directors: C. Scott Willis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2012
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007IHH4H0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,935 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

A fascinating, unflinching portrait of the late photographer Francesca Woodman, told through the young artist's work (including experimental videos and journal entries) and remarkably candid interviews with her artist parents Betty and George (an internationally renowned ceramic sculptor and painter/photographer), who have continued their own artistic practices while watching Francesca's professional reputation eclipse their own.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Examination of the Parents as much as Francesca June 23, 2012
Like the previous reviewer, I have never heard of Francesca Woodman until this documentary, which as well turned up on my Netflix queue. After seeing her work, I was really impressed and interested in her photographs.

This documentary explores the family of The Woodmans, which is the parents, Betty and George and their children, Charlie and Francesca. This family is all about art and nothing else. The documentary seems at first to focus on Francesca who grew to great celebrity, especially in the past decade, for her unique and passionate photography in the 60's and 70's. It was, unfortunately, not until after her suicide that her art began to take notice.

We listen to her friends and family talk of Francesca and the passion, inspiration and persistence of her work through photography, which at the time was still young in its idea of art. Looking at her works now, they do appear to be quite modern and has since influenced many photographers. But while alive, Francesca was thought of as fragile, alone, sad, desperate, needy or curious. She did not seem to have many friends, but at the same time her world seemed small. She had written in her diaries that she liked her photos to be small to create the intimacy between the viewer and the picture.

In retrospect, however, the parents, from the way they described their upbringing of Francesca, was as if she was in the way of their ideals. They said they were not interested in having kids and it was as if they were an accident. In their travels, such as to Italy, she was sent off with some guide so the parents can experience the artistic world without nagging kids around. Francesca, at least, seemed focused enough at her young age to immerse herself in the world of art (perhaps learning from her parents).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tragic Suicide of a Girl with Great Talent April 6, 2013
Several thoughts about this film: first, it is very good. The girl, Francesca Woodman, whose life and suicide it describes, was an amazing photographer. Her images, which are liberally displayed throughout the film, are astoundingly good. I had never heard of her before seeing this, and this has made me her fan. She is truly brilliant, in her few short years she created an utterly sublime body of work.

But, and in spite of this triumph, she killed herself in 1981 by throwing herself off a building in New York at the age of 22.

This documentary exploring her brief life and that brilliant work is basically a series of interviews with her parents and brother (all of whom are artists as well), and a few of her friends, juxtaposed with her pictures, some black and white footage she shot of herself making art, and excerpts from her journals. It's fascinating, very well done.

As a survivor of suicide myself, as someone who has had to struggle with someone I love taking himself so violently from us, from those who loved him, I feel great sympathy with her survivors. And while I also sympathize with Francesca, who was an extremely sensitive girl suffering from clinical depression when she died, I have no sympathy with her final act. On that level her story is infuriating. A child of such privilege and talent, but so narcissistic and with such a sense of entitlement. Her journal entries are too much to take, really. Such adolescent self absorption, filtered through her years at Philips Andover and in Italy, and then RISD; where she clearly got immersed in the likes of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, seeing as how well she took on that same high romantic angst ridden nihilistic "artist's" schtick that they perfected before her.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Art First July 29, 2012
By Promise
This is a documentary about the Woodmans, a family of artists. At the time of the filming, Betty, a clay artist, is about 80 and George, a painter-turned-photographer is 77. There is a son, Charlie, who we don't see much of, and it's unclear what medium he words in. Then there is Francesca, who committed suicide in her 20's some time before the filming. One of the flaws of the film, in my opinion, is the lack of clarity about its intent. The title suggests that it's about the whole Woodman family, but, as I've already mentioned, Charlie is only a footnote, and the whole focus soon becomes the life, death and work of Francesca.

Most of the film consists of an interview with George and Betty. There are a few interviews with friends and associates of Francesca and a couple with Charlie. There is footage of her diary, and, best of all are views of Francesca's work, both still photographs and some films. Her work is exquisite and it makes the film worth viewing, in my opinion.

Well I'll stop writing "in my opinion" because obviously this review is an expression of my opinion. I think it's the intent of this site to give viewers the chance to review films, not necessarily to pass judgments on the people in the films. However, many reviewers do express their personal feelings about subjects brought up in films, and it does make for interesting reading. I will take the lead of reviewers Carroll and Velasquez, niether of whom hesitated to give their opinions.

One of the questions that came up for me, after seeing this, is why did the parents consent to do this film? If I had a child who committed suicide, would I sit for hours and talk about it for millions of strangers to see?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the artist's work ethic described by Francesca's Mother
The work ethic. I love the artist's work ethic described by Francesca's Mother. I own this movie on DVD and watch it to remind myself of the preciousness in our creative drive. Read more
Published 5 days ago by blacklily.bobro
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling
I struggle mightily to conjure an image of a family more egotistic and self-centered than The Woodmans. Read more
Published 12 days ago by MoxyMallard
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
This dvd really brings out how some artists walk a fine line between genius and mental illness. She was so innovative for her time.
Published 4 months ago by Denise Havlan
5.0 out of 5 stars The srory behind the story
Yes she was ttalented, yes she killed herself at 22 but the background of her life with her somewhat disinterested parents and their own internal conflicts really fills out much of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by John M. Kegley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Woodmans gives insight into the creative mind
I had seen a show of Francesca Woodman's work at the Modern in NYC-this video provides lots of back story I appreciated. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Lynn Zetzman
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. This inside look into her life through the recollections of her parents is both honest and touching.
Published 23 months ago by Patrick C. Lentz
5.0 out of 5 stars How must a parent feel?
This was a great documentary about art because it addressed the question of whether one can center their life with art. Read more
Published 23 months ago by 36 chmbrs
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Film, An Excellent Documentary
This is an awfully good documentary, a reminder of how good a movie can be.

Many recent films have been labeled documentaries which might be more accurately called... Read more
Published on October 21, 2012 by garwood
2.0 out of 5 stars pay-back
I just didn't care about this family drama. The Woodman's are a couple who inflict there obsessive urge to be creative on us. Read more
Published on September 25, 2012 by .fgd
5.0 out of 5 stars The Woodmans
Every human being is guided by a motivation or a set of motivations, trying to reach an end that sometimes eludes us. Read more
Published on July 10, 2012 by Carlos E. Velasquez
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